Sunday 31 December 2017

Maybe it's much too early in the game - aah, but I thought I'd ask you just the same

"This house is cleaaan..." In fact, we've spent quite a few hours on it, getting ready for the guests to arrive for our traditional New Year's Eve bash. We've fired up the gramophone, rolled back the rug - so let's get frugging!

The question remains, however...

Have a Happy, Happy, Happy one, dear reader!

[PS it would be such a shame if the dear sweet children upstairs were to be disturbed by any banging, crashing, loud musical noises or screams, wouldn't it? Laughs maniacally]

Saturday 30 December 2017


Alongside the likes of Sir Barry Gibb, Sir Ringo Starr and Dame Darcey Bussell; Companions of Honour Lady Antonia Fraser and Lord Melvyn Bragg; and Hugh Laurie CBE, Julia McKenzie CBE, Jilly Cooper CBE, Rick Stein CBE and Susan Hampshire CBE...

...three cheers go out to Our Patron Saint Marc Almond OBE!

Worship me now

Come here in my chamber
Recline on the velvet
I've been waiting for years
And it's high time you felt it
In the arms of your worshipped master
Arms that can break you
And create you after

Worship me now,
Beat the rush, beat the crowd
You've got to worship me now

We do, Marc. We do.

The New Year's Honours List in full.

Friday 29 December 2017

RIP, 2017

'Tis that time of year again, folks - as we open the "Book of the Dead" for 2017. It's been a year that has not, perhaps, seen so many world-famous and shock deaths as 2016 (Roger Moore, John Hurt, Mary Tyler-Moore, Jerry Lewis and David Cassidy aside), but nonetheless for me personally (and for many of our generation) this was a year when whole swathes of familiar and beloved faces from our childhoods went off to the great Rediffusion box in the sky: Brucie, Barry Norman, "Catweazle", "René", Noaksie, "Shelley", William G Stewart, "Clegg", Likely Lad "Bob", Cheggers, "Siegfried Farnon", "Benson", Brian Cant, "Oscar Goldstein", Heinz Wolff, "Batman" and all...

William Christopher (US actor, "Father Mulcahy" in M*A*S*H)
Om Puri (Indian actor, East is East, Gandhi)
Peter Sarstedt (US singer-songwriter, Where Do You Go To, My Lovely?)
Buddy Bregman (US arranger, producer and composer, Verve Records)
Victor Lownes (US businessman, executive for Playboy Enterprises UK and originator of the idea of "Playboy bunnies")
Graham Taylor (British football pundit, former England manager)
Larry Steinbachek (British pop keyboardist, Bronski Beat)
Lord Snowdon, Anthony Armstrong-Jones (British photographer, ex-husband of Princess Margaret)
William Peter Blatty (US author and filmmaker, The Exorcist)
Buddy Greco (US swing singer and member of the "Rat Pack", The Lady is a Tramp)
Eugene Cernan (US astronaut, last man on the Moon)
Baroness Rachael Heyhoe Flint (British cricketer, former England women's team captain)
Gorden Kaye (British comedy actor, René in Allo, Allo!)
Mary Tyler Moore (US television actress, comedienne and entertainer)
Tam Dalyell (British (Scottish) former MP, famously a "thorn in Maggie Thatcher's side")
Alexander Chancellor (British journalist, former editor of The Spectator)
Emmanuelle Riva (French actress)
Barbara Hale (US actress, "Della Street" in Perry Mason)
Sir John Hurt (British actor, I Claudius, Naked Civil Servant, Alien)
Sir Christopher Bland (British businessman, former chair of the BBC board of governors and chairman of the Royal Shakespeare Company)
Desmond Carrington (British broadcaster, DJ and "national treasure", Radio 2)
Alec McCowen (British actor, Travels With My Aunt, Personal Services)
Tara Palmer-Tomkinson (British model, socialite and friend of Prince Charles)
Alan Simpson (British comedy writer, Hancock’s Half Hour, Steptoe and Son)
Nicolai Gedda (Swedish operatic tenor)
Richard Hatch (US actor, Battlestar Galactica)
Damian Davey (British Hi-NRG singer, The Timewarp)
Al Jarreau (US jazz-soul singer, theme from Moonlighting)
Peter Skellern (British singer-songwriter, You're A Lady)
Lord (David) Waddington (British politician, former Home Secretary)
Bill Paxton (US actor, Aliens)
Neil Fingleton (Britain’s Tallest Man and actor, Game of Thrones)
Sir Gerald Kaufman (British MP, longest-serving member ("Father of the House") of the Commons)
Ann Beach (British character actress, Fresh Fields, Notting Hill)
Joni Sledge (US singer, Sister Sledge)
Tony Haygarth (British character actor, Rosie, Emmerdale)
Chuck Berry (US rock'n'roll singer and guitarist: No Particular Place to Go, Roll Over Beethoven, My Ding-a-Ling)
Martin McGuinness (British (Northern Irish) politician, leader of the murderous IRA terrorist organisation during the 1970s and 80s)

Colin Dexter (British crime writer, creator of Inspector Morse)
David Storey (British author, This Sporting Life)
Clem Curtis (British soul singer and founder member of The Foundations, Baby Now That I've Found You)
Gilbert Baker (US artist, created the rainbow flag)
Cuba Gooding (US soul singer, The Main Ingredient)
Darcus Howe (British-Trinidadian controversial black rights activist)
Tim Pigott-Smith (British actor, Jewel in the Crown, The Chief)
Don Rickles (US comedian)
Brian Matthew (British broadcaster, BBC Radio 2)
David Parry-Jones (British (Welsh) BBC TV presenter, newsreader and rugby pundit)
Christopher Morahan (British director and producer, Jewel in the Crown, deputy director of the National Theatre)
John Geils Jr (US musician, founder of The J Geils Band, Centrefold)
Emma Morano (Italian supercentenarian, last surviving person born in the 1800s)
Clifton James (US actor, "Sheriff JW Pepper" in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun)
Jane Freeman (British actress, "Ivy" in Last of the Summer Wine)
Michael Bogdanov (British theatre director, the controversial Romans In Britain)
Sylvia Moy (US songwriter for Motown: My Cherie Amour, It Takes Two, This Old Heart of Mine)
Erin Moran (US actress, "Joanie" in Happy Days)
Jonathan Demme (US film director: Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia)
Leo Baxendale (British cartoonist, creator of "Minnie the Minx" and the "Bash Street Kids" in legendary kids' comic The Beano)
Daliah Lavi (Israeli actress, Casino Royale)
Robert Miles (Swiss-Italian trance music producer and DJ, Children)
Geoffrey Bayldon (British actor, Catweazle)
Michael Wearing (British TV producer and executive, Boys From The Blackstuff, Edge of Darkness)
Ian Brady (Britain's most notorious child murderer, the Moors Murders)
Rhodri Morgan (British (Welsh) politician, former first minister of the Welsh Assembly)
Powers Boothe (US actor and voiceover artist)
Sir Roger Moore (British actor, James Bond)
Dina Merrill (US heiress, socialite and actress)
Gregg Allman (US musician, Allman Brothers, former "Mr Cher")
John Noakes (British children's TV presenter and "national treasure")
General Manuel Noriega (Panamanian military dictator, convicted drug trafficker)
Roy Barraclough (British comedian and actor, Les Dawson Show, Coronation Street)
Peter Sallis (British comedy actor, Last of the Summer Wine, Wallace and Gromit)
Adnan Khashoggi (Saudi businessman, arms dealer and socialite)
Adam West (US actor, Batman)
Anita Pallenberg (German-Italian model, Rolling Stones groupie and socialite)

Countess Mountbatten of Burma (British aristocracy, cousin of Prince Philip, widow of Lord Louis Mountbatten)
Helmut Kohl (German statesman, Chancellor who presided over the unification of East and West)
Brian Cant (British children's TV presenter, Play School)
Michael Bond (British author, Paddington Bear)
Barry Norman (British broadcaster, presented the Film programme for 20 years on BBC)
Carla Fendi (Italian fashion tycoon)
Paul Hollingdale (British broadcaster, first DJ voice on BBC Radio 2)
George Romero (US-Canadian horror film director, Night of the Living Dead)
Elsa Martinelli (Italian actress)
Martin Landau (US actor, Mission Impossible, Space: 1999)
John Heard (US actor, Home Alone)
Chester Bennington (US rock vocalist, Linkin Park)
Kenneth Jay Lane (US costume jewellery creator)
Deborah Watling (British actress, "Victoria" - companion to the second Doctor Who)
Jeanne Moreau (French actress, Jules et Jim)
Sam Shepard (US actor and playwright)
Robert Hardy (British actor, All Creatures Great and Small)
Hywel Bennett (British (Welsh) actor, Shelley, Malice Aforethought)
Glenn Campbell (US singer, Wichita Linesman, Rhinestone Cowboy)
Barbara Cook (US Broadway singer, Glitter and Be Gay, Mostly Sondheim)
Bruce Forsyth (British entertainer and TV host, Generation Game, Strictly Come Dancing)
Jerry Lewis (US comedian, 10-year comedy partnership with Dean Martin)
Bea Wain (US Big Band era singer)
Richard Anderson (US actor, "Oscar Goldman" in The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman)
Walter Becker (US musician, co-founder of Steely Dan)
Holger Czukay (German experimental music pioneer, co-founder of Can)
Don Williams (US Country singer)
Sir Peter Hall (British theatre impresario, founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, director of the National Theatre)
JP Donleavy (Irish author, The Ginger Man)
Harry Dean Stanton (US actor)
Jake LaMotta (US boxer, inspiration for the film Raging Bull)
Liliane Bettencourt (French heiress, L'Oreal mogul and World's Richest Woman)
Sir Teddy Taylor (British Tory MP, one of PM John Major's rebels whom he called "the bastards")
William G Stewart (British television producer and presenter, Fifteen to One)
Liz Dawn (British actress, "Vera Duckworth" in Coronation Street)
Tony Booth (British actor, Till Death Us Do Part; and Tony Blair's father-in-law)
Hugh Hefner (US multi-millionaire publisher, founder of Playboy)
Jack Good (British pop music pioneer and producer, Six-Five Special, Shindig, launched the careers of Cliff Richard and PJ Proby)
Benjamin Whitrow (British character actor, Pride & Prejudice, Chancer)
Tom Petty (US rock singer/songwriter)

Bobby Knutt (British comedian and character actor, Benidorm)
Hervé Léger (French fashion designer)
Richard Smith (British gay journalist and blogger, Fagburn)
Sean Hughes (British-Irish stand-up comedian, actor and TV host, Never Mind The Buzzcocks)
Roy Dotrice (British veteran stage and screen actor)
Danielle Darrieux (French actress and centenarian)
Judith McGrath (Australian actress, "'Po-Face' Colleen Powell" in Prisoner Cell Block H)
Rosemary Leach (British actress, The Jewel in the Crown, Jackanory)
Sir Bert Massie (British disability rights campaigner)
Robert Guillaume (US comic actor, Soap, Benson)
Fats Domino (US musician, "founding father" of rock'n'roll)
Nancy Friday (US feminist, pioneering writer on women's sexuality and fantasies)
George Young (British (Scottish)-Australian musician and producer, Easybeats, AC/DC)
Antonio Carluccio (Italian-British TV chef and restaurateur)
John Hillerman (US actor, "Higgins" in Magnum, P.I.)
Dudley Simpson (Australian composer and conductor of TV show themes: The Tomorrow People, Blake's 7)
Keith Barron (British television actor, Duty Free, Telford’s Change)
Liz Smith (US gossip columnist and long-term friend of Elaine Stritch)
Malcolm Young (British (Scottish)-Australian rock guitarist and founder member of AC/DC)
Professor Roger Lockyer (British historian, writer and one half of the very first gay couple who became "civil partners")
Charles Manson (US notorious mass murderer)
Jana Novotna (Czech tennis player, Wimbledon champion 1998)
Rodney Bewes (British actor, The Likely Lads)
David Cassidy (US pop singer and teen idol)
Jim Nabors (US actor and singer)
Della Reese (US jazz, blues and Cha-Cha-Cha singer and actress)
King Michael of Romania
Shashi Kapoor (Indian Bollywood actor, Heat and Dust)
Christine Keeler (British model at the heart of the "Profumo Affair")
Johnny Hallyday (French singer, nicknamed "The French Elvis")
Toni Mascolo (British hairdresser and businessman, founded Toni & Guy)
Max Clifford (British former celebrity publicist, jailed for sex abuse)
Keith Chegwin (British [mainly children's] TV host, Cheggers Plays Pop, Multi-Coloured Swap Shop)
Professor Heinz Wolff (German scientist, inventor and TV presenter, The Great Egg Race)
Keely Smith (US singer, partnered Louis Prima, That Old Black Magic)
Juan Lladró (Spanish porcelain businessman, co-founder of Lladró)
Heather Menzies (British (Scottish)-Canadian actress, "Louisa" in The Sound of Music)
Bronwen, Lady Astor (British aristocrat, hostess at Clivedon, venue for the parties at the heart of the "Profumo Affair")

Farewell, one and all.

If you've got no place to go, if you're feeling down

John-John, Paul and trolled over to the Southbank yesterday for a unique experience - the ABBA: Super Troupers exhibition, and it was quite fab. Guided through a series of individual rooms (accompanied by the dulcet tones of unlikely ABBA-fan Jarvis Cocker), it began with an archetypal 1970s British living-room (complete with primary-coloured floral print crockery, tiny TV and the general hue of orange and teak) at about the time that the (other) Fab Four exploded into our consciousness by winning Eurovision.

From there, we walked through the Scandinavian woodland of the group's folk-festival roots, the hotel suite in Brighton where they celebrated their song contest win in 1974, their recording studio, backstage at their blockbuster Australian stadium tour, through the cloakroom (and toilets!) of a typical 70s nightclub, to "Agnetha's room" from the Winner Takes It All video, and finally onto a luxurious aeroplane... All these excellent scenarios were, of course, the settings in which a variety of sheet music, stage costumes and memorabilia - as well as scene-setting audio clips - were proudly and cleverly displayed. Thoroughly enjoyable!

Who else should I feature on this wet and miserable day, as our eyes fix firmly on our annual NYE party to come this weekend, than Benny, Bjorn, Anni-Frid and Agnetha themselves? Thank Disco - and thank ABBA - it's Friday!

2018 beckons...

Thursday 28 December 2017

Denker! Spratt! Where's my gin?

It's Dame Maggie Smith's birthday!

All hail, bitches...

Wednesday 27 December 2017

A little guts and lots of glitter

How life should be.

It's that "bit in-between", folks. The weather is foul; all cold winds and sleet. The shops (even in "Chav Central" aka Wood Green) are not especially busy, despite the half-price sales that have inevitably started everywhere. Methinks most people have wisely opted to stay indoors and mong out on leftovers while watching crap TV; unfortunately that includes the Demon Spawn from Hell upstairs, whose screeching and crashing began at 6am today! Oh, golly gosh, I said. As you might imagine...

Having missed out on our regular Tacky Music Monday this week thanks to the bloody Festering Season, I think it only right that we mark the fact it would have been the 90th birthday of the fantabulosa Denis Quilley yesterday - and cheer ourselves up with a healthy dose of feathers, foof and faff. Don't you?

Take it away, girls!

We are what we are, and what we are is an illusion.
We love how it feels
Putting on heels causing confusion.
We face life though it's sometimes sweet and sometimes bitter;
Face life, with a little guts and lots of glitter.
Look under our frocks: Girdles and jocks,
Proving we are what we are!

Amen to that...

Denis Clifford Quilley, OBE (26th December 1927 – 5th October 2003)

Tuesday 26 December 2017

All Hulot's Day

Oh! Thank fuck for that; it's all over. Of course, the "Festering Season" will still plague us for a while yet, with "jolly" music and bloody-tinsel-clad-everything well beyond its shelf-life, all through the (inevitable) sales and beyond - until, that is, the shelves are cleared for Valentines/Easter/whatever come the middle of January...

Time, methinks, for a little trip into Monsieur Hulot's subtly satirical world, with this slice of 60s fabulousness - and to lose ourselves in another easy listening interlude, courtesy of the faboo Soft Tempo Lounge:

Music: Fabio Fabor - Douce Ensemble

Ah, that's better.

Monday 25 December 2017

Sunday 24 December 2017

And all through the house...

There's something stuck up in the chimney and I don't know what it is
But it's been there all night long
Well, I waited up for Santa all Christmas night
But he never came and it don't seem right
That there's something in the chimney and it doesn't make a sound
But I wish you Merry Christmas

There's something stuck up in the chimney and I don't know what it is
But it's been there all week long
Well, the dog keeps barking up the chimney flue
And we don't know what we're gonna to do
Cause there's something in the chimney and it doesn't move around
And it's been a week since Christmas

There's something stuck up in the chimney and I don't know what it is
But it's been there all month long
Well, it's jammed up tight above the fireplace
Now the house smells funny, such a big disgrace
That there's something in the chimney and it doesn't talk at all
And it's been there since last Christmas

There's something stuck up in the chimney and I don't know what it is
But it's been there all year long
I'll been waiting up for Santa like I did last year
But my brother says, "He's already here."
And he's stuck up in the chimney
And he doesn't say a word
And he'll be there every Christmas
And we'll have him every Christmas

Touches me every time.

Bah Humbug.

Saturday 23 December 2017

Mood music

Probably the only thing I would like to unwrap on Monday

A lovely Xmas carol, courtesy of house faves The Supreme Fabulettes!

Bah Humbug.

Friday 22 December 2017

There's no need to be unhappy

It's the last day in the office for two weeks, dear reader - and time for a party!!

Xmas is the season for...
  • Surviving mainly on a diet of chocolate-based foodstuffs.
  • Drinking with people who you don't really give a shit about and, if you didn't work with them, would probably never speak to in your entire life.
  • Gritting your teeth at the utter shit you have to endure in every shop you enter: vast queues of halfwits, seasonal staff who couldn't tie their own shoelaces without a diagram, crap produce at twice normal price because it's in a box with some holly on it, and endless banal "festive" muzak like Wings, Shaky, Mariah. And knowing that once the Boxing Day sales start, everything you've bought will be half price.
  • Boring people not getting any more interesting because they have an "amusing" jumper with reindeer on it.
  • Dogs - even tramp dogs - with pullovers and reindeer antlers on.
  • Annual reunion parties at which everyone spends the first hour talking about their latest ailments.
  • Utter bollocks "stocking filler" gifts like inflatable hipster beards, "poo-ing reindeer" jellybean dispensers, retro games ("Jacks", Mah-Jong, Rubik's cubes, etc) that nobody understands or can be bothered to read the instructions, or comedy socks or mugs.
  • Observing that everyone you speak to has a little twinkly bit of glitter somewhere on their face/hand/frock from opening a cheap card.
  • Trying to find an intelligent television programme amongst the "Christmas Specials".
  • Trying to find a radio station that isn't playing carols, Slade or any kind of Xmas music at all.
  • And...

...doing the hand movements to YMCA!

Thank Disco It's (Festive) Friday!

Thursday 21 December 2017

Have another sherry...

It's that time of year - when all thoughts turn to the fantabulosa Fascinating Aida for a traditional Xmas message...

Bah Humbug.

Wednesday 20 December 2017

But I've done that already, or didn't you know, love?

"It’s jaw-droppingly great." - Paul Taylor, The Independent

"This isn’t just triumphant, it’s transcendent." - Tim Bano, The Stage

"Unmissable, really." - Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph

Hils (who masterminded the trip), History Boy, Madam Arcati and I ventured [for the very first time, incidentally] to the concrete bunker that is The Olivier at the National Theatre [an unforgiving maze of levels, stairs and walkways that could confuse even the most intrepid Victorian explorer] on Monday for the hugely-anticipated new production of Stephen Sondheim's glitziest musical, Follies. In the expert directorial hands of the NT's Associate Dominic Cooke - who has eschewed more modern revisions of the show in favour of its original version - it was probably the most overwhelming thing we've seen all year!

Follies, with its central abiding theme of a reunion of now-elderly former showgirls, has assumed somewhat of a reputation over the years as a "vehicle" for real-life faded beauties to partake in the line-up and shimmy their way back into the limelight for perhaps a last encore. Indeed, the roster of "chorines" who have appeared in the show since its inception in 1971 is impressive, and includes such luminaries as Yvonne De Carlo, Barbara Cook, Carol Burnett, Elaine Stritch, Bernadette Peters, Hildegarde, Lee Remick, Patty Duke, Virginia Mayo, Ann Miller, Dame Diana Rigg, Polly Bergen, Vikki Carr, Donna McKechnie, Shani Wallis, Eartha Kitt, Maxene Andrews, Dolores Gray, Kaye Ballard, Stella Stevens, Juliet Prowse, Dorothy Lamour, Jo Anne Worley, Millicent Martin, Marni Nixon, Régine, Elaine Paige, Adele Anderson and even Yma Sumac.

Indeed, we went to see a glittering one-off "in concert" production at the Royal Albert Hall (by Strictly Come Dancing's Craig Revell-Horwood) that featured a cast of mega-camp proportions, with Stephanie Powers, Anita Dobson, Betty Buckley, Lorna Luft, Anita Harris, Ruthie Henshall and Christine Baranski back in 2015.

This full-fledged, two-and-a-quarter-hours-without-an-interval version was something more than all that, however. The fabled tale of the gathering of "Mr Weissman's Follies" girls amongst the ruins of the about-to-be-demolished theatre in which they all had their finest hours is, of course, an excuse for all of them to get their glad-rags out and perform their own solo pieces for the last time - but here, the slow-moving, monochrome "ghosts" of their former selves in full feathered and sequinned (and magnificent) regalia were not so much the foil for the dance routines, but, quite scarily, the spectres of a collective death: of their dreams, their ambitions, and the lost hopes of their youth.

The archetypal "mutton dressed as lamb" Solange LaFitte (Geraldine Fitzgerald) flirted and winked through her naughty memories in Ah, Paris!, yet her only accompanying dancers were (sexy) ghosts. Frail old Emily and Theodore Whitman (Norma Attallah and Billy Boyle) soft-shoe shuffled through what was, in their day, a top-class dance number Rain On The Roof, but among the rubble theirs was a poignant attempt at joy. And, with the show-stopper to beat all show-stoppers, Carlotta Campion (an utterly convincing and superb Tracie Bennett) belted out - to a long-dead audience on an empty stage - her defiant I'm Still Here; as her own "ghost" sat, forlorn, on a demolished section of wall. Even the opening parade of Those Beautiful Girls was done down a rusty fire escape, the sweeping staircase of old having been already presumably bulldozed... Most chilling of all - and the point at which even a hard-bitten bitch such as I, dear reader, cried - was when the utterly sublime Heidi Schiller (Josephine Barstow) performed her mournful operatic duet with her glamorous, young, former self (Alison Langer) on One More Kiss. We can see ourselves in these chorus girls, after all - and recall our own "glamorous and desirable moments". Long gone.

Thankfully, a little light relief was at hand courtesy of the brassy Hattie Walker (Di Botcher) - now larger than life and hardly a hoofer - who bucked the trend with her obviously tongue-in-cheek Broadway Baby, and the superbly-choreographed Who's That Woman, in which Stella Deems (Dawn Hope) led the assembled girls in a riotous ensemble routine that ended with present-day and past versions linking arms with themselves in full chorus-line fashion, and raised the roof.

Throughout the mêlée of set-pieces, of course, is woven the main story: the embittered and entangled lives and relationships of Sally Durant (Imelda Staunton), Buddy Plummer (Peter Forbes), Phyllis Rogers (Janie Dee) and Benjamin Stone (Philip Quast). Ostensibly secure, comfortably-off and settled, it soon becomes evident that they are anything but...

With the tableau of the quartet's younger selves interjecting across, around and through the stilted conversations, Ben set the scene with his own song of regret The Road You Didn't Take, and the brittle and neurotic Sally maintained a pretence that she and Buddy are happy and secure (In Buddy's Eyes). When the two started dancing together, these lies came to the surface as it became evident that the pair had never, even after three decades, got over the fact that young Ben left young Sally and married young Phyllis instead. Their tearful and beautifully sung duet Too Many Mornings encapsulated this longed-for passion.

But it was all very, very long ago; and despite Sally's obsessive belief that the long-dead relationship might be rekindled, no-one - not the errant Buddy (grasping at affairs as his almost-escape-route from the desperation of his marriage, as outlined in the barn-storming The Right Girl), nor the troubled Ben himself - wanted to "rock the boat" that much. Phyllis came closest. Beautifully bored, elegantly unsatisfied, she ripped the façade behind which Ben hides himself to shreds with her utterly magnificent Could I Leave You?. We were completely bowled over by Janie Dee's performance.

As the cries of anguish rang out over this bitter reunion bash, so the irony of the "young 'uns" number You're Gonna Love Tomorrow sent even more shivers down the spine than usual - as the foursome (Fred Haig as Buddy, Alex Young as Sally, Adam Rhys-Charles as Ben and the superb Zizi Strallen as Phyllis) flirted and cavorted with hardly a care in the world, on their way to wedded (ahem) bliss.

Then the curtains rose on the dream-like Loveland set, and each of the main leads was introduced by a chorus girl to perform their own final "Folly" (variety show style). Buddy's The God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues, a pastiche in the chirpy style of Al Jolson or Jimmy Durante, exposed his inability to decide between the disastrous Sally and his long-distance and naive mistress Margie. He was completely upstaged, however, when Phyllis and her young self va-va-voomed their way through The Story of Lucy and Jessie.

Of course, neither character's routine could ever compare with the show's most climactic tour-de-force number Losing My Mind - and in the hands (and with the tonsils) of Miss Staunton, "Sally's Folly" was a bitter, desperate, angry, bewildered, gut-wrenching cry for help from a character who was so far removed from reality that she can no longer function. Not so much a show-tune as a cataclysm...

Even her performance couldn't reach the polished heights of Mr Quast and his awe-inspiring voice (throughout the show). He is one of the very best in the business. His portrayal of "Ben's Folly" was on another level altogether however, as his "rictus grin" as the leading man in the song-and-dance number Live, Laugh, Love crumbled away in a sea of broken, lonely sobs that had me completely frozen in my seat. Utter genius.

Unlike previous adaptations of the book by James Goldman, this Follies has no happy, neat nor tidy ending. Phyllis, of course, gets the final line. As she picks Ben up to take him home he says: You're quite something, aren't you?" - to which she replies with "Bet your ass!"

I am overjoyed we got to see this Sondheim masterpiece before its final curtain on 3rd January. I have rarely felt so exhausted and thrilled by a production. It was an incomparably great experience!

Follies at the NT

More Follies.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

I'm dreaming of a smug Xmas...

Christmas is full of wonderful opportunities to be sickeningly middle class, but what sort of bourgeois poncery is right for you? Read our guide for inspiration.

Foodie Christmas

A Christmas totally dominated by agonisingly trivial conversations about prosciutto and storing aubergines in oil that make normal people want to ram Nigel Slater’s baked marrow up your arse.

Guardian Christmas

Christmas with a strong focus on fun things like ethical consumerism and hand-wringing liberal guilt. Presents should be things like oven gloves made by homeless people showing ‘Mrs Santa’ delivering the gifts in a two-fingered salute to Santa’s oppressive, patriarchal present-delivering monopoly.

Upper-middle class Christmas

Incredibly expensive Richard Curtis film-style Christmas for people who do not realise paying £600 for a tree is insane. Crackers will contain a silver hip flask or Fitbit rather than a cellophane fish that purports to reveal your personality. May also involve skiing in Switzerland and “Portia and Hugo bringing their cellos over”.

Educational Christmas

Favoured by ambitious parents, an educational Christmas requires it to be turned into a dreary learning experience about random facts like the natural habitat and diet of reindeer and however Anglo-Saxons celebrated it in their huts. Ideally should involve school-style ‘activity sheets’ and a test on Christmas day for extra fun.

Eco bullshit Christmas

No ‘factory farmed’ turkey here, but instead you will enjoy a wild organic goose that was killed non-invasively by being chased around a meadow until it collapsed. May also involve the dreaded ‘nut roast’ and scraping leftovers into the compost heap while chanting a Pagan hymn of thanks to Mother Earth.
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Ho Ho Fucking Ho.

Monday 18 December 2017

The same old tingle that I feel inside

It's our last week in the office, and the Festering Season is in full swing - we're off to see Follies at the National Theatre tonight, there's another Xmas get-together with former work colleagues tomorrow, and one cannot escape Mariah-fucking-Carey wherever one goes.

However, we waved a sad farewell to another of our fabled Patron Saints on the weekend, the effervescent Miss Keely Smith. So, on this Tacky Music Monday, it is to the great lady herself we turn (with then-husband Louis Prima of course) to get our juices flowing and out into the darkness...

That old black magic has me in its spell
That old black magic that you weave so well
Those icy fingers up and down my spine
The same old witchcraft when your eyes meet mine

The same old tingle that I feel inside
And then that elevator starts its ride
And down and down I go, round and round I go
Like a leaf that's caught in the tide

I should stay away but what can I do?
I hear your name and I'm aflame
Aflame with such a burning desire
That only your kiss can put out the fire

'Cause you are the lover I have waited for
The mate that fate had me created for
And every time your lips meet mine

Darling, down and down I go, round and round I go
In a spin, loving the spin that I'm in
Under that old black magic called love

Have a swinging week, dear reader!

RIP Keely Smith (born Dorothy Jacqueline Keely, 9th March 1928 – 16th December 2017)

Sunday 17 December 2017

Youthful allure you can’t procure

Having almost "lost a day" after rolling in at 5.30am from Our Sal's birthday party, then last night spending a third night out on the trot with friends visiting London from "oop North", I have a little bit of catching up to do - not least the fact that yesterday was The Master Noël Coward's birthday, and a tribute seems fitting.

So without further ado, here is the man himself singing a rather pithy number that I certainly have never heard before...

Life today is hectic
Our world is running away
Only the wise can recognize
The process of decay
Unhappily, all our dialectic
Is quite unable to say whether we’re on the beam or not
Whether we’ll rise supreme or not
Whether this new regime or not
Is leading us astray

We all have Frigidaires, radios
Television and movie shows
To shield us from the ultimate abyss
We have our daily bread neatly cut
Every modern convenience but
The question that confronts us all is this:

What’s going to happen to the children
When there aren’t any more grown-ups?
Having been injected with some rather peculiar glands
Darling Mum’s gone platinum
And dances to all the rumba bands
The songs that she sings at twilight
Would certainly be the highlight
For some of those claques that Elsa Maxwell
Takes around in yachts
Rockabye, rockabye, rockabye my darlings
Mother requires a few more shots
Does it amuse the tiny mites
To see their parents high as kites?
What’s, what’s, what’s going to happen to the tots?

Life today’s neurotic, a ceaseless battle we wage;
Millions are spent to circumvent
The march of middle age
The fact that we grab each new narcotic
Can only prove in the end

Whether our hormones gel or not
Whether our cells rebel or not
Whether we’re blown to hell or not
We’ll all be round the bend
From taking Benzedrine, Dexamyl
Every possible sleeping pill
To knock us out or knock us into shape
We all have shots for this, shots for that
Shots for making us thin or fat
But there’s one problem that we can’t escape

What’s going to happen to the children
When there aren’t any more grown-ups?
Thanks to plastic surgery and uncle’s abrupt demise
Dear Aunt Rose has changed her nose
But doesn’t appear to realize
The pleasures that once were heaven
Look silly at sixty-seven
And youthful allure you can’t procure
In terms of perms and pots
So lullaby, lullaby, lullaby my darlings
Try not to scratch those large red spots
Think of the shock when mummy’s face
Is lifted from its proper place
What’s, what’s, what’s going to happen to the tots?

What’s going to happen to the children
When there aren’t any more grown-ups?
It’s bizarre when grandmama, without getting out of breath
Starts to jive at eighty-five and frightens the little ones to death
The police had to send a squad car
When daddy got fried on vodka
And tied a tweed coat round mummy’s throat
In several sailor’s knots
Hushabye, hushabye, hushabye my darlings
Try not to fret and wet your cots
One day you’ll clench your tiny fists
And murder your psychiatrists
What’s, what’s, what’s going to happen to the tots?

Brilliance personified.

Sir Noël Peirce Coward (16th December 1899 – 26th March 1973)

Saturday 16 December 2017

Cytokynes, apparently

I slept in (with earplugs) till 3pm today...

Friday 15 December 2017

Come on and do it do it do it

The dreaded Festering Season is almost upon us with a vengeance. Tinsel, glitter and Shakin' Bloody Stevens are everywhere. Last night it was the office "do", and there is just one full week of joy in the office before we disappear into our own little worlds and emerge the other side in 2018. The sooner the better!

It's time once again to get ourselves in a party mood, nevertheless [and we have a proper party tonight, as it is Our Sal's sparkly birthday bash!], in the glittering company of the eternally tacky Legs and Co, flinging themselves around to with one of the coolest-of-cool of dance choons - and to Thank Disco It's Friday!
[2020 UPDATE - the Legs & Co version is gone from the interwebs...]

Bohannon, Bohannon, Bohannon - we salute you.

Have a faboo weekend, dear reader!

Thursday 14 December 2017

Stick them in the shredder, like Santa does

Simply throwing all Christmas cards into the bin unopened could save you up to four hours this Christmas, it has been claimed.

Time-saving expert Martin Bishop believes a million hours of festive fun could be gained nationally by putting cards straight in the recycling after squeezing them for possible money.

He said: “I hate to say ‘one weird trick’ but you take those cards and stick them in the shredder, like Santa does with the kids’ lists, and you’ll feel a real weight off your shoulders.

“Think of the time you’ll save buggering about opening them and putting them on a shelf.”

Bishop added: “You really don’t need to read Christmas cards, unless you especially like generic poems about robins and bells with a token greeting scribbled underneath. The ones hand-made by children or pensioners are especially poor.

“Although interestingly I did once get a card from my nan that had a racist drawing in it.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Bah Humbug!

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Santa's beard hairs, an assassin, the Boy, perfectly Frank, boarding school dorm fun, and an Agony Aunt

"And so here it is, Merry Polari,
Ev'rybody's having fun!"

So it was that I trolled off (on my own - although Bryanne and Simon arrived to keep me company) through the slush and the biting winds on Monday to the Southbank, for the very last outing of "London's peerless gay literary salon" in 2017 - A Very Polari Christmas! Unfortunately I had neglected to put my camera into my bag in the haze of getting ready to to go to work, so any pics here are courtesy of fellow Polari-ites...

Our host Paul Burston was gaily bedecked as a hipster Santa to open proceedings, managing to hold it all together despite spitting out beard hairs, wished us Season's Greetings - and, without further ado introduced our first reader (and Polari regular) William Parker.

Fellow "New-putt"-born Mr Parker read from us a couple of pieces from his as-yet-unpublished new work. Weaving together the childhood experiences of a lonely (gay) schoolboy, the trepidation he and and his chums feel using a Ouija board for the first time, and (as reflected in a series of flashbacks to her own childhood) the spirit they conjure up - bizarrely, that of Charlotte Corday, the woman who was caught up in the French Revolution and became notorious as the assassin of the vicious Jean-Paul Marat, his selection was bewildering, and yet very intriguing indeed...

Next to the stand was a real raconteur of the old school variety - Mr Ian Elmslie. Formerly "the Boy" of legendary cabaret duo Katrina and the Boy [who I saw perform at the now-defunct Market Tavern in Vauxhall waaaay back in 1991!], apparently he was born at the same hospital as Quentin Crisp; he certainly brought a little load of camp to the proceedings - resplendent as he was with immaculate maquillage and sparkly brooch [pictured above]!

He read for us (with all the voices!) a couple of pieces from his memoir (or, as he described it, "a series of thank-you notes") A Marvellous Party, featuring his meetings with the great and the good among his (and our) heroes, including Dame Julie Walters (whose appearance was subject to a running commentary by the local bric-a-brac shopkeeper and the theatre's charlady)... and Armistead Maupin:

Simply faboo, sweeties!

How could the delightful Miss Susie Boyt possibly follow that? Arriving on stage, top-to-toe in the most divine silver ensemble, and with her characteristically dry-as-dust delivery, she managed very well, methinks - especially as she opened with a little prize quiz. "Who is the only Oscar-winner, both of whose parents were also Oscar-winners?", she asked. "Liza Minnelli", I responded in a stage whisper - and promptly won a copy of her book Love & Fame (from which her reading for us was taken)!

And what a story this was - the convoluted escapades of our heroine, a media-type waiting at a posh hotel for her supposed celeb-interviewee (who, she knows after six hours, is never going to show up); she makes a rash decision to instead amuse herself by inviting an older stranger ("Perfectly Frank") she met in the bar to her room. Then she promptly spends the rest of the evening on the phone to her sister, going over and over the feelings they felt at their mother's funeral. Meanwhile, the disappointed stranger leaves - and we are left hanging, wondering what she's up to...

I cannot pay sufficient justice to Miss Boyt's talents - the audience was enraptured!

With all that ringing in our ears, however, it was time to brave the chill for a fag-break and a top-up at the bar.

Warming up the audience for the second half [metaphorically and literally; the room was cosier than the windswept walkways of the Southbank!], Paul - "robbed" of his Santa-suit - proudly introduced a "literary hero of his" to the stand, the remarkable Mr Tony Peake.

He read from us a few passages from his first new novel in 20 years North Facing, the blurb for which reads thus:
A novel of awakening and atonement, this exquisitely realised story revisits a seminal boyhood moment as it plays out - with unexpected and sinister consequences - against the backdrop of political upheaval in South Africa. For one long, intense week in October 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought with it an East-West stand-off and the possibility of nuclear holocaust. On the other side of the globe, in Pretoria, a group of schoolboys scan the horizon for signs that the world is about to end. There is political tension here too, and the power struggles and cruelties of the boys mirror the corruption of a deeply divided country. Paul Harvey - sensitive, isolated, and desperate to fit in at school despite his English heritage - will do whatever is needed to please the class ringleader, Andre du Toit. Now in his sixties and living abroad, Paul is drawn back to South Africa to confront the unexpected and chilling consequences of this seminal boyhood moment - and the part he unwittingly played in the drama that unfolded.
At times teasingly erotic (just what was he prepared to do for Andre in the dorm in order to be accepted into the "gang"?) and funny (the older Paul encountering an "English countryside"-themed hotel in the midst of the lawless "badlands" outside Johannesburg), this has the promise of being a very good read, indeed.

But, of course, now it was time for the "true" Spirit of Xmas to take to the stage: the "Secret Santa" herself, "Aunty" Val Lee!

Reading a selection of hilarious "letters" from her "agony aunt postbag", she dished out a wealth of pithy (and often ridiculously awry) "advice" to all and sundry. With the laughter subsiding, she shed her "advice columnist" persona in favour of "VG Lee, Author" - to read for us a passage from her classic Always You, Edina.

The piece she focused us on was engrossing - the childhood memories of the book's protagonist Bonnie, and her daily attempts to impress the idol of her life: Joanna Bayliss, the most popular girl at her school; the games she invented, the glances they shared, the desperate yearning... and the contrast between her dreams and the reality of her home life, and her relationship with her no-nonsense Nan. Brilliant, as always!

And so, with the customary "curtain call" of all the evening's readers, another fantabulosa evening's literary entertainment came to a close - with resounding applause, as one might expect!

Now we have to wait till the itinerary for next year's Polari events is published before making plans for the next visit - hopefully it won't be too long a wait.

We love Polari!

Tuesday 12 December 2017

People who enjoy this kind of cinematic orgy

Mmmm. They look nice and warm...

As the snow handed the baton to slush, and then a bitterly cold night turned it to ice, so we fully expect the entire country to grind to a halt by Wednesday. It always happens. One might expect that a nation that obsesses about the weather all the time might be a bit more prepared for - say - wintry conditions in winter, or heat in summer. But I digress...

Let's get away from all the "weather-bomb" bullshit, and lose ourselves with a suitably light musical interlude - courtesy of those super-cool bods over at Soft Tempo Lounge!

This time, the featured film is one of a most obscure level of trashiness, described by critic Brian Greene at Criminal Element thus:
I don’t suspect that many who watch this movie are really in it for the story. It’s the pure 70s camp features that make this film a giggle-inducing source of wonder for the B-movie enthusiast. There’s staples from the decade, such as outrageously wide shirt collars, unconvincing martial arts manoeuvres, oversize computing equipment, funky disco music (I need the soundtrack, desperately) and such. Other aspects of the movie likely to delight people who enjoy this kind of cinematic orgy include car and foot chases, cock-fights, psychedelic coloured lights, and laughably grave conversational tones spoken by outlandish characters involved in ludicrous doings.
Wonder Women sounds right up our street! Judge for yourself:

Music: Firebird by Neil Richardson Orchestra


Monday 11 December 2017


I was somewhat misled by the "fake news" of Wikipedia this time last year, when I inadvertently paid tribute to a "centenarian" - when, in fact today is the 100th anniversary of the ebullient Pérez Prado, "The Mambo King"...

Regardless of such embarrassing errors - here is the man himself, in fine form this Tacky Music Monday, to cheer us up as we traverse the slush on our way to work...

Have a Mambo week, dear reader!

Dámaso Pérez Prado (11th December 1917 – 14th September 1989)

Sunday 10 December 2017

Gotta get my gear out ready for a winter spill

Having spent all day yesterday with "our gang" - at one of our newest innovations, a "Film Club" - drinking vast quantities of alcohol, and watching hours of campery (the Technicolour remake of The Prisoner of Zenda, followed by The Grand Budapest Hotel), I was in need of a lie-in. No such luck, as the demon spawn upstairs decided that destroying furniture while screaming at the tops of their lungs was a good idea at 9am on a Sunday...

...and to top it all, the world turned white overnight (which will make a trip to the shops that little bit more tedious than usual)!

Hey ho. We might as well welcome the arrival of winter proper with a suitable number, courtesy of former Edwin Starr protégé turned Hi-NRG singer Mis Laura Pallas:

Let's hope I stay vertical.

Saturday 9 December 2017

Someone, help me, help me, help me please

Oh dear, time to feel old again... My childhood crush, the toothsome Donny Osmond is sixty years old today!

I was nine when I sat, entranced, in front of Top of the Pops, crying over this one...

Times have changed.

Too young? Not any more...

Many happy returns, Donald Clark "Donny" Osmond (born 9th December 1957)!

Friday 8 December 2017

There's a new day on the other side (yeah)

I could sit and watch this all day

This week has dragged, but the end is in sight...

As we gather ourselves for the celebrations, let's perk ourselves up in the company of a semi-naked Ryan Phillippe [in the film 54], and the estimable talents of today's birthday boy Dan Hartman (RIP) - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Help me escape this feelin' of insecurity
I need you so much but I don't think you really need me
But if we all stand up in the name of love
And state the case of what we're dreamin' of
I've got to say I only dream of you
But like a thief in the night
You took away the love that I knew

Relight my fire (Well)
Your love is my only desire
Relight my fire
Cos I need your love

Turn back the time to the days when our love was new
Do you remember?
No matter what was happenin' I was there with you
But if we all stand up for what we believe
And maybe live within our possibilities
The world would be wild for the dream
So baby don't turn away
Listen to what I gotta say

Relight my fire
Your love is my only desire
Relight my fire
Cos I need... oh I need your love

Strong enough to walk on through the night (yeah)
There's a new day on the other side (yeah)
You got to have hope in your soul
Just keep on walkin' yeah, just keep on walkin' yeah

Relight my fire
Your love is my only desire
Relight my fire
Cos I need your love

Have a great weekend, dears.

Thursday 7 December 2017

Don't let the moment slip away

Congratulations, Australia!

From the site:
A bill has been passed in Parliament to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia.

There were jubilant scenes in the public galleries and chamber where crowds and politicians rose to their feet, clapped and cheered. Many sang ‘I am, you are, we are Australian’ and waved rainbow flags.
I bet!

Who better to lead the celebrations than Australia's greatest ever export (and stalwart gay equality supporter) Our Princess Kylie Minogue?

How do you describe a feeling?
I've only ever dreamt of this.

DJ's spinning up my favourite song,
Hurry up and get a groove on.
Light fantastic and it won't be long,
Don't let the moment slip away.

'Cause you and I could find a pleasure, no one else has ever known.
Feels like it is now or never, don't want to be alone

How does it feel in my arms?
How does it feel in my arms?
Do you want it?
Do you need it?
Can you feel it?
Tell me.
How does it feel in my arms?

Got a feeling this is something strong.
All I wanna do is move on.
No more wondering where I belong.
So never go away.

'Cause you and I are a guilty pleasure, no one else has ever known.
Feels like it is now or never, don't want to be alone.

How does it feel in my arms?
How does it feel in my arms?
Do you want it?
Do you need it?
Can you feel it?
Tell me.
How does it feel in my arms?

Wednesday 6 December 2017

There is a little bit of Johnny in all of us


RIP the man nicknamed "The French Elvis", teen heartthrob and latterly "bad boy" of rock - Johnny Hallyday (born Jean-Philippe Smet, 15th June 1943 – 5th December 2017)

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Elegant gifts

...courtesy of Miss Havisham's Curiosities.

I want one of these!

Monday 4 December 2017

Luvvies or Land-lubbers?

Congratulations to the venerable Glenda Jackson, who was awarded Best Actress at the London Evening Standard theatre awards last night - for her return to the stage after a 20-year hiatus as an MP, as the groundbreaking female King Lear.

Less known to the world maybe, but on this Tacky Music Monday we at Dolores Delargo Towers pay tribute to her legendary musical debut...with The Muppets!

I bet that woke you up!

Have a good one, dears...

Sunday 3 December 2017

Big Finnish

The demon spawn upstairs have gone out for the afternoon, which is cause in itself for celebration and relaxation.

Even more opportune, then, is the fact that there is a centenary in the offing - Finland became an independent state on 6th December 1917*.

Here, to send the shivers up your spine, is a most magnificent piece by that country's most famous composer Jean Sibelius...

Oh, that's better.

*Birthday Kake, anyone?